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Mulholland Drive
Ghost World
Tree of Life
Upstream Color
No Country for Old Men
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Man Who Wasn't There
City of God
Spirited Away
Port of Call New Orleans
Talk to Her
A Serious Man
Grizzly Man
Take Shelter
Children of Men
Certified Copy

So there's at least twenty in my top ten. I think with all of these I was left thinking "that was amazing." With those further down I also thought "and yet" for whatever reason was relevant, but it wasn't the sort of yet that interfered with the amazingness, just some limitation of scope or consistency or full emotional involvement.

Not far behind, in no order: Poetry, A Separation, Adaptation, The Ghost Writer, Rescue Dawn, Into the Abyss, Gosford Park, Napoleon Dynamite, Marcy May Marlene, Deep Blue Sea, Winter's Bone, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The White Balloon, My Son My Son What Have You Done, Primer, You Can Count on Me, Once, Fog of War, Battle Royale, Eastern Promises, A History of Violence, Waking Life, Before Sunset, Sideways, The Piano Teacher, Michael Clayton, Monster's Ball, Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert For, In the Loop, A Single Man, Little Miss Sunshine, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Borat, Bruno, The Kids Are All Right, Moon, Munich, War of the Worlds, The Terminal, The Incredibles, Toy Story 3, Wall E, Burn After Reading, maybe Inception. Doubtless forgetting at least several just as good.

I wonder where I'd fit The Wire and Breaking Bad in there. They hit higher heights than, say, Zodiac, but there's more filler or resting spaces. Movies have a shot at perfection.

Though the latter half of Breaking Bad pretty much hits that too. And if season 4 of The Wire doesn't I don't think anyone cares, given what it does hit. Perfect's not everything. Ask me which experience I'd rather have had, those tv shows or Zodiac, and I'd go with either show any day. By The Man Who Wasn't There I wouldn't be able to decide. Though by Mulholland Drive I'd be able again.
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Despite the fact that almost everything I see is recent, as I don't see much of anything most of the holes in my film knowledge are post-2000. Of those, one of the film aggregate sites says these are the best-thought-of movies I haven't seen:

Yi Yi, The Werckmeister Harmonies, A Russian Ark, Cache, A Tropical Malady, Blissfully Yours, Platform, The Gleaners and I, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, The Turin Horse, The Son, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, In Vanda's Room, Code Unknown, Songs from the Second Floor, Tie Xi Qu, Distant, Melancholia, La Cienega, Colossal Youth, Elephant, Ten, As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Glimpses of Great Beauty, Silent Light, Syndromes and a Century, Goodbye Dragon Inn, 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days, Still Life, The Headless Woman

Some of those are really long and some others are by people I mostly hate, like Haneke and Von Trier, but the others I'll try to get to. Theoretically we could break up long ones, but when we do we tend to forget about them. It took us a couple weeks to get through The Wolf of Wall Street.

These other ones were listed:

In the Mood for Love - well made but so dull
Mulholland Drive - my choice for #1 of 2000s, and '90s too
Spirited Away - great movie, maybe among ten best I've seen for '00s
There Will Be Blood - hate it
The Tree of Life - half great, half hate; for great chunk still probably top ten
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon - thoroughly amusing
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - disliked but brain was dehydrated
Punch Drunk Love - amusing, maybe the one Anderson movie worth a glance
Talk to Her - great movie, maybe top ten
City of God - great, probable top ten
Wall E - very fun
AI - completely worked on me, maybe top ten
Dogville - hate
Dancer in the Dark - Bjork was good, movie not
Requiem for a Dream - harrowing, good
The Lives of Others - good
The Royal Tenenbaums - often annoying, sometimes amusing, Hackman was good
Amelie - very fun
Brokeback Mountain - starts well but so boring
Inland Empire - no clue
The Piano Teacher - magnificent actor steals whole movie, cf Belly of an Architect
Zodiac - great, maybe top ten
The Fellowship of the Ring - maybe great as adaptation, probably not as movie
No Country for Old Men - amazing, probably top ten
Memento - great, maybe top ten
Oldboy - starts great, gets silly
A Separation - great
Pan's Labyrinth - great in flashes, as many disappointing elements
Donnie Darko - hate
Synecdoche New York - noble failure
Before Sunset - very good
Lost in Translation - well shot but pointless
2046 - fairly good
A History of Violence - very good, great in flashes
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Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, High and Low
Dersu Uzala, Ikiru, Ran, Stray Dog, Drunken Angel

Fanny and Alexander, Scenes from a Marriage, Through a Glass Darkly, Shame, Summer with Monika
Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Cries and Whispers, Winter Light, The Magic Flute

Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, Straight Story, The Elephant Man, Lost Highway
Eraserhead, Fire Walk with Me, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Inland Empire

Aguirre, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Cobra Verde, My Best Fiend, Grizzly Man
Rescue Dawn, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, Heart of Glass, My Son My Son What Have You Done, Into the Abyss

The 400 Blows, Mississippi Mermaid, Small Change, The Story of Adele H, Two English Girls
Stolen Kisses, Woman Next Door, The Man Who Loved Women, Shoot the Piano Player, Jules and Jim

No Country for Old Men, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Man Who Wasn't There, A Serious Man, Miller's Crossing
The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink, Fargo, True Grit, Blood Simple

A.I., Schindler's List, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, Munich
War of the Worlds, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Terminal, Empire of the Sun, E.T.

eXistenZ, Naked Lunch, Eastern Promises, Videodrome, A History of Violence
Spider, Dead Ringers, Crash, The Fly, The Dead Zone (don't even like the last two)

Dazed and Confused, Waking Life, Before Sunset, Slacker, Before Sunrise
School of Rock, Bernie, Fast Food Nation, Tape, Me and Orson Welles

The Tree of Life, Badlands, The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven, The New World

Upstream Color, Primer

Chinatown, The Ninth Gate, The Ghost Writer, Bitter Moon, Macbeth
Repulsion, Frantic, Death and the Maiden, Rosemary's Baby, The Tenant

Stalker, Andrei Rublev, Mirror, Solaris

Need to see Boyhood, Before Midnight, Maps to the Stars, Cosmopolis, Oliver Twist, Venus in Fur, Where the Green Ants Dream, Encounters at the End of the World, Lessons of Darkness, The Quiet Duel, Madadayo, Rhapsody in August, Face to Face, The Rite, Autumn Sonata, After the Rehearsal, The Wild Child, Nostalghia, The Sacrifice, Ivan's Childhood, To the Wonder, War Horse and Lincoln.
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The Mirror -> Tree of Life, aspects of Fanny and Alexander

Didn't love it despite that, but it was surprisingly watchable given how much life-saving equipment it threw overboard.

Eraserhead -> Upstream Color?

Don't want latter to be the case, but the isolated demiurge figure and parasitic hierarchy of economic exploiters both fit - and while these are around in later Lynch basic human (reproductive) identity is never again the topic. Can't think where else Carruth might have got them, though who knows, maybe there's a mutual ancestor. Or that fading stirrer of rumors coincidence, which nevertheless must be at work somewhere in the world even now. Though, y'know, worms.

Lynch's film, which I saw long enough ago to remember little about, is finally just a guilt/anxiety nightmare and its counter-gnosis of escape, relatable enough, impressively executed, and to the right sensibility pretty amusing, but not moving - because self-castigating? It's kind of amazing Mel Brooks saw in Lynch someone right for The Elephant Man. That's some deep seeing.

Maybe best to view Carruth's film as an answer. What you might tell Henry to help it make sense.
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People were easy. Nobody knew anything about them. If it sounded good they took your word for it. They took Joyce’s word for it.

From "On Writing," an outtake from one of the "Big Two-Hearted River" drafts.

Came into my head while trying to figure out enthusiasm for Anderson's trademark cringe-inducingly longheld false notes in The Master. These pretty much are his style, so I find esteem for him even harder to understand than Homeland love (apparently everyone's upset because season 2 was "terrible" (!)).

I think it boils down to this false syllogism: People are awkward and random, The Master is awkward and random, The Master is people. So an update on Hemingway: if it sounds sufficiently awful they take your word for it.

How you even make a boring movie about Scientology is beyond me though. It's also always instructive how little it matters that a movie is beautifully, ingeniously shot. Or acted: Phoenix, who has never impressed me before, salvages a lot of the first hour.

Holy Motors is at many points extremely awkward too but a) seems to know it, and b) takes pains to amount to something. And maybe most importantly c) is awkward within normal earthly bounds of awkwardness. Maybe that explains appreciation of Anderson, that he's so audaciously off-the-charts awkward that you (not you, not me) become afraid this might be some new sort of genius. But that I've written about before, that kind of arrogant artistic terrorism: Bergman is sure of himself and says things I don't understand, Anderson is sure of himself etc., Anderson is Bergman.
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I don't know if I could settle on a top ten movies list, but I've been steady on these eight for a while now:

Fanny and Alexander
Mulholland Drive
400 Blows
Seven Samurai

They just never fail.
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Cabin in the Woods:

Nice. Nice.

A horror movie to etc.

Might just have been serendipity but it leaves you feeling even the clumsiness of the early scenes was deliberate.

Added pleasure of its putting Haneke in his classless, talentless place.

And the alternative Ring ending...

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Community improved, Wire crescendoed, Season 2 of The Walking Dead is a waste of time. Seriously - if for some reason you're following that one skip every episode between the first and last. A synopsis will catch you up. Amazingly tedious - as though The Killing bit and infected it.

First good Community episode was the first Christmas one, and quite a few have followed. I'd been pretty skeptical till then, though the presence of Dino Stamopo-something of Mr. Show was an encouraging sign. It's not as funny as, say, classic Futurama but compares well to present Futurama.

My iTunes account is still American through some loophole so we've been getting our movies and television that way. They have a lot more movies for rent than I'd realized, all 3 or 4 dollars - about half the ones I want to see. Even some Criterions; re. which House (1977) is a stupid waste of time, if you were wondering.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is fairly good.
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Summer Interlude and Summer with Monika both out on blu-ray May 29. Never saw the former - exciting.

I bought Sunset Limited but we keep not wanting to watch it. Reminds me of that Gerard Depardieu movie where he and some friends form a pact to commit suicide by overeating - how I totally want to have seen that but without ever actually watching it.

Didn't particularly like Moneyball, The Descendants, Midnight in Paris.

We're starting season 3 of The Wire. It's never not good, but season 2 repeated 1 a bit too much to keep the honeymoon sweetlit.
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Union I'm in decided not to strike at the last minute. I was half looking forward to experiencing one from within. Maybe the deal will still fall through.

On the silly show Fringe things are shaping up toward a war between parallel dimensions. Made me think how much better set up, more intriguing the show could have been if one had already conquered the other but next to no one had been told, and exposition instead revolved around some people finding out - with everyone in the world landscaping, scrubbing dirty mountains, purifying lakes, building five mile waterslides. With all time measured backwards, toward a termination date when the populations of the worlds would trade (without seeing one another to prevent friction), the conquerors moving into houses their doubles had been given subsistence wages to fit out with improvements of the conquerors' choosing - presented as mysterious lists - while the conquered are stuck with a much shabbier, environmentally degraded planet their masters had burned through. Allegorical of a few real things, like the global musical chairs game of bourgeoisification where the music is stopping soon, and of course the world today's adults are giving their grandchildren, maybe children.

And then I realized that's more or less what Never Let Me Go had already done. Back at South Carolina they made all the incoming freshpersons read it before their first classes started, during the year I was given my own first rhetoric/composition courses to teach (unions for public workers being illegal there). They told us we had to work the novel in somehow, but then later said it was optional so I threw the book aside, having enough to deal with, meaning my first experience of the story was unfortunately the movie, which made a big mistake.

I don't mean Keira Knightley though if I ever meet her I will unsexually assault her with a soup hose at once. And I don't mean how horribly unpleasant a viewing experience it is, given what's happening - the cramp-like, contortive inner wincing you start to do in sympathy for the maimed, which isn't all gone the next day. I mean how it screws up the sequence of revelations by making you feel you know what's going to be revealed - which at first you do, and then later you don't, and for the final one of all you don't even realize one's coming. Thinking you know what's going to happen can be a satisfaction only when you don't think everyone else knows too, that it's that obvious. And you probably need to feel there's at least a possibility that you're wrong. It wasn't the unpleasantness but being left to sink in it as a kind of narative lake that was the problem. The movement from weirdness to science fiction to an allegory (of globalism's discards, presumably?) to the final thing could have been supurb. And is that in the book for all I know, but inevitably ruined now. The final, existential-type shift was still supurb but you can't freshen a soured aesthetic experience. Novels can. Not easily, though, and possibly only novels.

Speaking of existential, caught a cold and my sleep's been fitful, probably enough to nail shut the coffin of my adjustment effort - meaning I'll start a new one.
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In any movie other than The Room Denny would be the best part.
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James Franco looks simultaneously happy and sad. Is this what people are mistaking for great acting ability? Maybe he's happy that people think he has great acting ability but sad because they're mistaking the fascination of his tragicomic mask for it.
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4. Contagion
5. Mildred Pierce

These movies were okay.

Listing movies is way easier because seeing them is!

I will therefore stop. But I will continue to make sure my Facebook friends are alerted about everything I buy online.
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About 60% of film top ten lists by male critics included The Tree of Life, compared to 44% of those by female critics, I have just painstakingly confirmed. I forget why I confirmed, but I confirmed.

Maybe it was unconsciously based on Meek's speech, which describes the dynamic of the parents in Tree startlingly closely. Malick was about pushing past it, but the pusher was male. You could say it had to be personal given the detail level it was shooting for, that those were the resources Malick had, but then there's the stuff at the end where the mother whispers "I give him to you," presumably to Sean Penn's spouse. I was annoyed by a lot of other things too, in that section, but even with stupid parties it's not nice to not be invited, and I'm not sure women were, at least as women. This is kind of glaring when your party is pretty much labeled the story of all life. He achieved a lot of genuine universality with the childhood stuff (hence the 44%), which this aspect won't occlude any more than the sucky ending does unless you let it, but there's a lot of reasons one might be inclined to let it.

Though, er, men were likelier by an even wider margin to select Meek's Cutoff. But that's a Western. All chicks hate those.
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2. Shoot the Piano Player
3. A Zed and Two Noughts

I'd forgotten almost everything about the first one - everything except there was a gunfight in the snow. Made me think of the Kierkegaard comment about walking away from any relationship the second you fall in love. It also had me thinking of Calvino's lightness essay, as did the fact I'd forgotten so much of it. He turned the knob up on the French bluffness of his actors to make everything seem okay, until even death in the snow is strangely light. Playing drama like comedy, that was big in the early New Wave films, now I think about it, I guess as an antidote to '50s segregation of seriousness and escapism or perhaps some rediscovery of the otherworldliness of cinema. The effect is strange now - I wonder how it was taken back then? I could watch any Truffaut movie any number of times but doubt this one's aged very well, aside from some of its surface entertainments - some of the things he's trying here he does better at the other end of the '60s in Mississippi Mermaid.

The Greenaway was baffling, not in what it was trying to do but that anyone would try to do it. I think in the end I may only like Belly of an Architect, of his, watchable as some of the others have been. Especially annoying was the dialogue, which relentlessly treated itself as clever and witty despite producing no laughter or admiration. Perhaps he was attempting light too but comparatively sucking at it? He seemed to mean a lot to people in the late '80s, early '90s, and did let you see many things you didn't elsewhere in movies. Maybe that's become cheapened by how much of everything we see all the time now. I'm not saying he's a narcissist, or even diagnosably OCD, but it feels like he gets something out of making these movies that's not very closely related to what a viewer does. I got his point - all there is for us here in the end is to flee from or study our own decay, and both enterprises finally fail because our decay doesn't. I just don't really care, as presented.

Maybe in both cases the filmmakers leave off from talking to audiences and just talk to their obsessions and I merely happen to share all of Truffaut's, very few of Greenaway's.
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I'll try to number movies till that falls apart.

1. Meek's Cutoff

Title's I guess a pun? I thought it was pretty good while it lasted. I'm not sure what the point of Meek's gendered cosmology was - an example of the absurdities you fall into using arbitrary traditional criteria (males, whites) when picking leaders? When Williams talked about wondering whether Meek was evil or imbecilic she seemed to be channeling a lot of conversations one heard about Bush a few years back. Which would make the uneasy switching of loyalties to Mr. Other an Obama era allegory, thus justifying the ending. Seems excessively topical if it's about Obama-hatred and swing voters, but I suppose we'll witness a lot of similar crises across these next decades.
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F&A kind of put Tree of Life in its place, too.
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Though Julie liked Tree of Life less than I did, I suspect. My advisor said he'd noticed, in his set, that the men all liked it and the women didn't.
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Awed: Tree of Life

Amused or touched: Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Bridesmaids, Jane Eyre

Amused but unable to justify it: Harold and Kumar 3D, Horrible Bosses, Limitless

Vaguely engaged: Super 8, 50/50, Source Code, In Time, Unknown, Insidious, The Conspirator, Your Highness

Irritated: Drive, The Help, Adjustment Bureau, Lincoln Lawyer

Bored: X-Men, Cars 2, Hugo, Hanna, Paranormal Activity 3, Hall Pass, 30 Minutes or Less

Entertained by badness of: Green Lantern, Season of the Witch

Unable to finish: Rango, Beginners, The Company Men

(We have limited access to the good movies, in our defense. Julie loved Super 8, had fun with Paranormal 3, & didn't much like Bosses, otherwise more or less agrees.)


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